To borrow a quote from number 31 on the list: 'Movies...the stuff that dreams are made of." Or perhaps it should be the other way around...regardless, the American Film Institute (AFI) just released the list of their idea of what the "Top 100 Movies of All Times" are. Well, at least until they ask 1500 other "above-average movie-goers" to voice their opinion next year when they release the list all over again.
Now, to be fair, according to the article I read from Roger Ebert, he states this voting body was comprised of "1500 filmmakers, critics and historians". Which begs the question - if they are picking "above-average movie-goers" what exactly does this "above-average" refer to? Their IQ, their net worth, the fact they've seen more movies than the "ordinary movie-goer" sees in one year? Well, I personally don't see many first-run movies per year, but this list isn't about "new" films anyway, so I figure that wasn't what they meant...but I'd also figure you'd have to have seen more than a movie or two during your life in order to be qualified to vote. I mean, catching those "films" they show on the Sci-Fi channel, like "Mansquito"...well, I'd venture to say they could do 100 such lists as these, and I doubt that "little gem" would show up on any.
Now, I do some "Top Ten" picking at my interactive comedy website, HumorMeOnline (yes, if I'm nothing else, I'm a master of the segue) and I realize you can give 15, 150 or 1500 people the same exact list of entries to pick from and you will probably never get the same ten picked twice. What I'm trying to say here is that there will always be people who look at this list and go "What??? My Fair Lady didn't make the list!?" Well, that person would be me...but I digress. You are never going to satisfy the majority when the minority are at the helm.
Mr. Ebert did make a comment which I couldn't, in 100 percent certainty, understand completely. I would figure he meant that when he was a teenager and saw (number one ranked) "Citizen Kane" for the first time, his eyes were opened to a whole other world of movies out there...movies that stand the test of time. These are the movies that make you think and have something to say thanks to great writers, actors who portray their characters brilliantly, and cinematography and direction that leave you in awe. Or, at the very least, something you can watch over and over again and see something new each time you do...or when you watch it years later...a whole different layer to appreciate is revealed.
Now, I haven't seen all the films on this list and some I could have easily knocked off...oh, say, "Titanic", and replaced with others...such as "V for Vendetta" and "Pan's Labyrinth" (which isn't an American film). Yes, "Titanic" did wow you with the effects...but I must admit...the entire time...I was rather hoping Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) would just hurry up and drown already. Furthermore I think that if there HAD to be a Titanic-based film on the list, "A Night to Remember" (1958), would be my choice...altho I doubt it would even have make my list. Plus, again, it's not American and wouldn't qualify...so it's a moot point. And if I were to pick a Bruce Willis film (and I do like Bruce Willis as an actor...I think he's highly underrated) it wouldn't have been The Sixth Sense...it would have been "Twelve Monkeys"...altho he also managed to show here with "Pulp Fiction", which I still adore as a film.
I am also very glad to see that "Sullivan's Travels" made this list. I don't know how many other times in the past that it has, but I can count the number of people I know who have seen this film on one hand...and possibly one finger. "Bringing Up Baby", an over-the-top screwball comedy from 1938 made it...and while I adore Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn both, I cannot help wondering why 1936's "My Man Godfrey", equally as madcap, but better in my opinion, didn't. In fact, I had to watch "Bringing Up Baby" a few times before I could really appreciate it...and even now, I appreciate "My Man Godfrey" more.
And "Some Like It Hot", voted AFI's #1 "Funniest American Movies of All Time" in 2000, had a pitiful showing on this list, coming in 22nd. That movie only gets better each and every time I watch it...and I am rightfully embarrassed telling you how many times that has been. Even "It's a Wonderful Life" and "The Graduate" should have placed much higher if you ask me...and while I can appreciate the acerbic wit and impeccable timing of Groucho Marx, I cannot really sit thru a Marx Brothers film and see what all the fuss was about. Zaniness? Yes. One liners from Groucho funny? You bet your life. Chico's inimitable hilarious misuse of the English language? Brilliant indeed! But while all of them stand on their own...to me they don't exactly gel when you throw them into the movie mix. Even playwright George S. Kaufman had an issue with their antics, and according to the Internet Movie Database, walked up to them during a rehearsal of "Animal Crackers" and remarked, "Excuse me for interrupting, but I thought for a minute I actually heard a line I wrote". Now, that movie didn't make this list, but this Kaufman quote did validate my dislike for their all-too-silliness.
Again, this is a list comprised by 1500 people and not my own self, so I know there are going to be some picks on there I agree with and some I am completely baffled by...but that's really not what the point of this list is. I do feel, as Roger Ebert also stated in not so many words, that coming out with this list perhaps introduces people to movies they ordinarily wouldn't have ever thought of viewing and especially of films that were made long before the majority of us were born. In fact, the earliest film I see on this AFI list is from 1916...D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance"...a subject he was not all too unfamiliar with, having filmed the highly controversial (then and especially now) "Birth of a Nation" the year before.
And, perhaps it might be a fitting way to end this blog saying that even though we don't agree with the films on this list...we just might need to be a little more tolerant of the choices.
A Bit About Me
- Mariann Simms
- Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".